Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Never Trust A Naked Bus Driver

The other day I mentioned that when some of the office bookshelves collapsed, I found my copies of three books by Jack Douglas that I'd been looking for. I discovered Douglas's books back in 1959 or 1960, and at the time I thought they were hilarious. So last night I decided to see if they were still funny after 45 years or so and picked up Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver. The title is either funny or sage advice. Or both.

The cover has a pretty good likeness of Douglas on it. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show back when Jack Parr was the host, so I remember what he looked like. And the book is just as strange as I remembered. It's very short, only 116 pages, and some of the pages have very little written on them. Chapter 42, for example, is nothing more than a sign that says, "This is your Submarine. Keep It Tidy." And in fact, chapter might be the wrong word, as it implies some kind of continuity. There's no continuity in the book. Each "chapter" is a separate entity containing things like notes, playbills, diary entries, reminiscenses, one-liners, and so on. My favorite chapter begins with another sign: "Kick the Happiness Habit -- Become a Writer."

So does the book still make me laugh? Sure, in places. It's not as funny to me as it was long ago, however, which is a shame. I figure the book hasn't changed. So it must be me.


  1. I actually "had to" go out and buy all his books...he was that important to me in my early teens.

    I actually got away with plaigarizing one of the stories in "Only Child" for my high school Spanish class (we had to write a story in Spanish and I just translated his (oh, I feel so guilty!) Now I do write my own stuff, so retribution will come...

    I am linking to this page from http://justsopress.typepad.com/tattoo_charlie/2005/10/15.html

  2. I had this book when I was 12 or 13, picked it up from a library book sale (in the 80's!), I thought it was hysterical. I can't seem to find it now. "Jackie Mason: Unite!". I don't even know what that means or why it's funny but it is.

  3. I'd been looking for NTANBD and My Brother Was an Only Child for a long time - for the same reason you re-read NTANBD. Loved him on Jack Parr. About the same time (1956-57?) my 5th grade teacher made "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody" by Will Cuppy mandatory reading. That's a book I've kept and still amazes - funny and real. Hang on to the Jack Douglas originals. They are impossible to find now. Fortunately, Will Cuppy still has a small following and is occasionally reprinted.

    Dan Waldhoff in Japan

  4. I still have the copy of Will Cuppy's book that I bought well over 40 years ago. A classic.

  5. A stretch of Peach Street better known for anti-abortion protests hosted a very different group Thursday night. These protestors held signs that read, "It was just a hobby," and "Bus drivers deserve privacy, too." They were speaking out on behalf of the bus driver trainee who lost her job after nude photos of her surfaced on the Internet. Christian Bussiere is the woman's ex-husband. He said she was no threat to children. Others pointed out that young people shouldn't be cruising the Internet, anyway. It was about a month ago that Newswatch 35 first told you about an Erie bus driver-in-training who had appeared naked on a website offering to sell used panties and sex toys. Two weeks later, after parent complaints and the airing of our story, she was fired. We have chosen not to identify the woman since she has not been charged with a crime.

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  7. Anonymous5:18 PM

    In 1973, I thought "The Neighbors are Scaring My Wolf" was the bomb. I even used it in forensics as a competition speech (and was criticized for such a "pop" selection). I can still remember a scene where a drunken divorcee neighbor gets so mad at Jack that she burns all her own porch furniture. Weird.

  8. I used to have that one, but it's disappeared.

  9. Actually what is the philosophy behind the title 'never trust a naked bus driver' ? what does it mean ? ... Coincidentally, Woody Allen talks about the title (title only, not the contents) in his film 'Anything Else' .. But, I never understood what it means ?

    May be you could explain the meaning of the title ?!